Fresno coach's sex crimes with student could've been stopped, lawsuit claims

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Sexual extortion by a high school softball coach and warning signs missed for almost a year. (KFSN)

Action News first reported the accusations against Sunnyside softball coach Chris Ybarra five months ago. Now, he's facing criminal charges and this new lawsuit from the family of his teenaged accuser.
Sexual extortion by a high school softball coach and warning signs missed for almost a year. Those are the claims of a new lawsuit targeting Fresno Unified for alleged crimes against a student.

"Questions should've been asked, maybe an investigation begun," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "This should've been looked into much more."

Action News first reported the accusations against Sunnyside softball coach Chris Ybarra five months ago. Now, he's facing criminal charges and this new lawsuit from the family of his teenaged accuser.

The girl was barely 15-years-old when she got sexually involved with coach Ybarra, according to court documents. The new lawsuit says several people noticed suspicious activity between the two of them over the course of almost a year, and yet nothing happened until she told her mother about the relationship.

On the softball field, Chris Ybarra was a champion. But while he was in control of what happened on the field, police say he lost control off the field -- having a sexual relationship with one player after she turned 18, and a second who was just 15. A new lawsuit claims Fresno Unified should've stopped the Sunnyside coach. It says school employees knew Ybarra was often alone with the younger girl over the course of a year, but administrators did nothing.

"If these acts are going on and the school district knew this person was alone with this student, it should've brought up an alert, it should've brought up alarms and something should've been questioned," Capozzi said. "It's something that should've been investigated."

He says the district should be very concerned about the girl's lawsuit. Action News uncovered court documents showing the girl told police she thought she'd lose her place on the softball team if she didn't submit to the coach's sexual whims. And the grooming started in eighth grade.

"It's pretty clear with this going on for a long period of time with an adult and she's under the age of 16," Capozzi said. "Clearly, there are damages in this case."

Ybarra spent a couple months in jail before he bailed out. 14 people wrote letters of support to the court on his behalf, including family members and even his now-retired second grade teacher. But Capozzi says the letters won't be much help as the criminal case moves forward.

"When it comes to these particular acts, that character is totally different from what those people know," said Capozzi.

We talked to Ybarra's criminal attorney who told us everyone who's been touched by this case is suffering, including Ybarra and his family.

A school district spokesman told an Action News reporter he'd look into it, but never commented on the case.



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